What defines an American?

My American Lit class was covering the criteria for being an American. I mentioned that perhaps those whose past generations have emigrated from England and other parts of Europe and established a government here should not be called Americans, just as Europeans who have moved to South Africa, caused appartheid and altered its government in the past are not called Africans. Also, is it racist to call a black person an African American? There are often people born in other countries or with other ethnic backgrounds, such as the Chinese or the Russians, that have never had “American” added to the back of their ethnic classification. Should we call black people “African Americans” just because we want a supposedly politically correct name to call people with more melanin (pigment) in their skin?

“ADD people don’t suffer
fools gladly”

Hey, here’s a theory. How about calling people who live in North, Central or South America, “Americans”. It’s a descriptive, geographic term. Use it that way and save yourself much hand-wringing.

Plunging like stones from a slingshot on Mars.

Ah, but the residents of South Africa of Dutch and Huguenot descent who speak the language derived from Dutch and endemic to that nation refer to themselves and their language as Afrikaans. (The natives are kaffirs in Afrikaans.) So therefore a white who moved here from Cape Town would be an African-American. BTW, though it goes in and out of political correctness, if I need to specify the racial identity of a black person, that’s the word I use. “African-American” on account of skin color for someone whose ancestors were here about as long as mine were strikes me as racist. Nobody feels it necessary to refer to us white folks as “Euro-American.” Is Pete DuPont Franco-American (and if so, when will he get promoted to Chef Boy-ar-dee)?

I’d like to hear from some people from other countries about how they’d define an “American”. When you think of an “American”, what picture comes to mind?

I know here we make a big deal (too big, sometimes) about our own nation’s multiculturalism, diversity, different races, etc.

Do others when they think of the US?

“It is impossible to defeat an ignorant man in an argument” - William McAdoo

Where you born in America? Answer yes, your an American.

First of all, there are many Chinese Americans, Italian Americans, Japanese Americans, El Salvadoran Americans.

However, I think that’s all a load of stinky bullshit. Fuck it.

ANYONE who lives in the United States for the majority of the year is American.

No prefixes, no cognomens. Just “American”

I don’t know who first said “everyone’s a critic,” but I think it’s a really stupid saying.

“ANYONE who lives in the United States for the majority of the year is American.
No prefixes, no cognomens. Just ‘American’”

So non-citizens who live in the US most of the time are Americans?

And what about people who live in America but not in the US? Last I checked Canada and Mexico were in North America. And there’s Central and South America as well. Collectively, they’re all “America.” Can a Bolivian call herself and American? (DOes that answer change if she has a gun?)

Sorry GuanYu, it’s a little off-topic, but blame HubZilla for pointing me this way ( ;))


“Listen Children Eternal Father Eternally One!” Exceptions? None!
-Doc Bronner

When you say “What defines an American” are you really asking “What defines a US citizen?”? If that is the case, check the Constitution. The answer is native born or naturalized. The Constitution makes no difference between the two (and neither should we) except naturalized citizens can not be President. Resident aliens are the only ones who should be identified as a hyphened American. Illegals should be deported.

I am WHITE… but I prefer to be called a EUROPEAN AMERICAN THANK YOUI take offense to anything else.

The wisest man I ever knew taught me something I never forgot. And although I never forgot it, I never quite memorized it either. So what I’m left with is the memory of having learned
something very wise that I can’t quite remember. -George Carlin

(Deleted 278 exclamation points. Sheesh. - Nick)
[Note: This message has been edited by Nickrz]

Let me look in my passport.says USA.

your !!! makes this entire topic hard to read.It’s too wide.Don’t do it again, Nikrz will get you.

Getting back to the OP, they told me in school that this hemisphere was only called ‘America’ after that guy Amerigo Vespucci nosed around it. . .and he came from Europe, right? So Western Hemispheric aboriginal peoples aren’t American, by your theory, right? And if people descended from persons who immigrated here from Europe or Asia are Europeans and Asians, respectively, and those descended from persons brought here from Africa are Africans, then there aren’t any Americans, are there?

And why shouldn’t an “African American” be insulted by being called a ‘black’ or a ‘Black’, since that sort of implies his/her attributes stop with the designation of a degree of approximation of his skin color relative to Europeans and Asians.

And are those of Arabic extraction from North Africa (of mostly Caucasian ancestry), who have emigrated to the US, African Americans?

And what in the world is an Hispanic American? Either a descendent of a pure Caucasian from Spain in Europe. . .or a person of full New World blood who has immigrated from some other “American” country that happens not to speak English or French, but rather Spanish or Portuguese?

And I don’t really understand what an Asian American is. Anyone descended from a Mongoloid people or an Indic Caucasian or Ainu people or Hmong or maybe even a Filipino/a or Guamanian (with maybe an Hispanic last name) or an Indonesian, which theoretically could include some strain from Irian Jaya (Western New Guinea)? And an Asian / Pacific Islander. What the devil is that? European Americans, European Portuguese, Chinese, Japanese and Polynesians from Hawaii, as well as Melanesians and Indians from Fiji and English persons and Maoris from New Zealand. . .along with all the Asian Americans?

And what ever happened to Australians, either European ones, Asian ones or aboriginal ones?

And when you get all that sorted out, you have to worry about whether you’re labeling a person by prior nationality, country of ancestry, ethnicity, religous affiliation. . .or what?

And then you have to worry (?) about individuals of mixed race from overseas or from racial mixture within the US and whatever.

Ray (mixed Extraterrestrian and Antarctic American. . .with organ implants from. . .and quadruple citizenship in. . .and thinking about joining Jews for Jesus. . .and loyal only to electronic hardware)

If you are born in america, you are NOT an american.

Choose your country & that is what you are.

Most of the time youll have it much easier in america if you claim american citizenship…

I thought you became american when you reached a particular weight…

I thought you became american when you reached a particular weight…

Nah, you’re thinking of Americanium, atomic weight 243.

I think we’re entitled to use “American” because we’re the only country here to have the name of the continent in our official designation, The United States of America. If you want to start calling us “Staters,” it’s fine with me - anything’s better than “Merkins.”

Thank you, Nickrz, for making this a readable thread!

Oh, I get it now, it’s a grossly distorted pronounciation of “Americans”. For a moment, I was wondering why we would call ourselves pubic-hair wigs.

Is aseymayo referring to americium, atomic no. 95, and mass numbers from 237 to 246? “Amercanium” is an illegal immigrant to the Periodic Chart.

And as to “Staters”, at least México and Brazil are also “United States”'s in this hemisphere.

But as to those people labeled American, consider the plight of the Japanese-Peruvian-American officially kidnapped from Perú by the US government during WWII, in cahoots with Perú (similarly in other Latin-American countries), brought into this country, labeled ‘illegal alien’, and thrown into an internment camp for the duration of that war. (There might be a little more problem in this country’s pulling such a thing off these days in Perú, considering the present Japanese-Peruvian president of that country.) See:



BTW, Shibayama’s first name, chopped off by the online SF Weekly, is ‘Art’.

Ray (Only “rt” is in the eye of the beholder of the online article.)

Of course you’re right, Ray - I should know better than to rely on my faulty memory. Americium it is.

According to the style guide of The Globe and Mail, Canada’s national newspaper, the country to our south is not America; it is the United States. However, people from there are Americans, and Canadians and Mexicans are not.